By Darkness Hid / Jill Williamson (Blood of Kings 1)
To Darkness Fled / Jill Williamson (Blood of Kings, 2)
HS (MS) Grades 8-12 Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Jill Williamson’s first novel, By Darkness Hid, won the 2010 Christy Award (Visionary) and is nominated for the 2010 Clive Staples Award (Speculative Fiction). Her second novel, To Darkness Fled, won the Christy Award in 2011.
By Darkness Hid tells the story of an orphaned servant who is given the chance to train as a squire. Achan hears strange voices in his head and fears them. Forced to serve for a prince he despises, Achan discovers a secret about his birth that will change the lives of many. A second story is woven throughout: a girl runs from an arranged marriage. Vrell also has the gift of bloodvoicing (hearing voices of others in her head), a gift passed down through royal bloodlines. While pretending to be a boy, she helps Achan escape imprisonment and flee for his life.
To Darkness Fled continues the story of Vrell and Achan. Both accept that Achan has been chosen by Arman, the one true God, to be king. Chased by an evil prince, Vrell and Achan flee into Darkness, seeking to free an imprisoned army that will help them. Achan suspects Vrell of lying, not realizing that she is hiding a secret about her gender. By the end of the book, Vrell leaves Achan and returns to her identity as Lady Avrella. Achan still does not know Vrell and Lady Avrella are the same, only that his loyal friend Vrell left his service.
The books are imaginative, well-written and contain all the familiar epic elements with a fresh rendering. They are both character and plot-driven. While they are long (400 and 680 pages), one loses track in this engaging, action-packed book.
Those who delight in swords, sorcery, good vs. evil, political and spiritual intrigue, will be thrilled with this new addition to Christian fantasy. Readers of science fiction, romance, and Christian fiction will also enjoy this epic series.
Recommended for middle and high school libraries, as well as young adult fiction collections in public libraries.
—reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, October 2010.